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WHS

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Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome

What is WHS?

In short, WHS (wobbly hedgehog syndrome) is a progressive, degenerative, neurological disease, the cause of which is still uncertain. There are no known cures, but there are treatments and supportive care you can give that may extend their life and certainly add quality to it. This disease acts much like Multiple Sclerosis does in humans, and may have a rapid onset, though more often the onset is gradual. The hind legs are often affected first, and then the paralysis spreads to the front legs and other parts of the body. Sometimes the paralysis affects one side of the body, and your hedgehog will begin tipping over and unable to stay upright. A series of case studies was done and they revealed that the onset of symptoms in most cases occurs between the ages of 18 and 24 months, although this disease has also been known to strike both younger and older hedgehogs. Hedgehogs with WHS will often experience weight loss, due in part to their inability to get to their food dishes (much can be done to help this) and in the advance stages of this disease, they become completely immobilized. In the cases that were studied, death occurred between 6 weeks and 19 months after the onset of symptoms. The following article is dedicated to the care of your WHS hedgehog.
X-Rays? of a hedgehog who has WHS.


Are You Sure This is WHS?

Before you jump to the conclusion that your hedgehog has WHS, you need to consider other causes for it's wobbliness.
Hedgehogs can appear "wobbly" for many reasons......
  1. Is your hedgehog cold? Feel it's belly and if it is cool to the touch, warm him or her up by placing him under your shirt. Then take steps to insure that this will not happen again by uping the temperature, placing a heating pad set on low under the cage, or some other means. Whatever you choose to do, make sure it is SAFE! DO NOT use hot rocks designed for reptiles as they can cause serious burns to your hedgehog. See Hibernation and Heating
  2. Injury, and arthritis are other possibilities. Your Vet can help determine by x-ray or ultrasound if there is something wrong there.
  3. Tumors are also known to cause wobbliness and other neurological abnormalities. Here again, your vet can help determine what is wrong and decide on possible treatments.
  4. Check your hedgehogs legs....make sure there is no hair or fibers wrapped around them, cutting off the circulation. This happens more often then you might think, and hedgehogs have lost their legs to this. Check the nails also, to make sure that they have not become overgrown and cutting into the pads of their feet. See Toenail Clipping
  5. Vestibular Syndrome may also be mistaken for WHS.
These are but a few examples of what can cause wobbliness. Your Vet can help disqualify other causes before you assume it is WHS. Remember, a necropsy is the only definitive method of diagnosing this disease. Once other possibilities have been ruled out, one might assume it is WHS and treat accordingly. The methods of daily care can certainly be applied regardless of the root cause.

Caring for a Hedgehog with WHS

For information on caring for a hedgehog with WHS please see Laura Ledet's WHS Site (external link). Laura's Site contains not only information on caring for hedgies with WHS but also on what foods to feed them and how to feed them. Laura describes her experiences with WHS and provides support to those who have hedgehogs with WHS.


References

  1. Wobbl Hedgehog Syndrome In African Pygmy Hedgehogs (external link)

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Created by: admin Last Modification: Wednesday 04 of March, 2009 09:39:08 EST by admin


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